I might as well start my 2015 picks off with one of my absolute favorite horror movies from 2014. The Babadook is one of those movies that, from the very first frame, you know you’re about to watch something special. It’s a movie that was on numerous top 10 lists last year. Not just Top 10 horror lists, mind you, but Top 10 overall movie lists. And reason is The Babadook goes beyond normal horror, and digs deeps into real, raw, and visceral humanity. No surprise it was a Sundance film. The story follows a single mother forced to raise her son alone after the tragic death of her husband (that coincided at the exact time of her son’s birth.) The relationship between these two damaged souls is the centerpiece of this entire film. The mother simply struggles with everything, from the harsh realities of daily life to her constant despair and sadness of the loss of her husband. The son also struggles with, well, almost everything as well, yet in a much different way. He’s erratic. He’s destructive. He’s quite possibly insane. He’s simply terrifying. As a parent myself, this is the most haunting part of the entire film. To me, the son instantly racks up as one of the scariest children in all of filmdom. He makes you think. What would you do as a parent if your son truly was bonkers? You love him unconditionally, but you feel helpless to his actions. And as scary as he is, in the quiet moments at night, when he’s afraid of what lives in the dark, you actually feel for him as well. This creates true emotion for the mother, and what she’s dealing with, even as she herself starts to break down. It’s this constant helplessness that becomes so smothering, that you as a viewer feel every bit of the helplessness yourself, especially as the film progresses. Notice I haven’t even mentioned the actual “monster” yet. The reason is because as amazing as the idea of The Babadook is (a monster that is released from a dark children’s book suddenly found in the house), it’s actually not the focus at all. I won’t ruin the surprises of the Babadook, or other aspects, but let’s just say that the dread slowly builds and builds to perfect effect. The ending of this film has created a lot of discussion amongst its viewers. Some love it. Some hate it. But regardless what you think, it honestly doesn’t matter. The humanity and the connection you have to the seriously messed up characters in this film will hook you throughout. It is such an amazingly constructed and, at times, beautiful film. And as a side note, the art in the children’s book itself is so creepy and cool. This is just such a wonderful ride.


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